A S I A N   L E O P A R D   C A T   or   A L C

Even as kittens, Bengal cats have pronounced rosettes
Bengals should have large random spots. Not many small ones.
(Aluren Solace of Elite owned by Lars Hindsley)

Bengals wouldn’t be Bengals without the Asian Leopard Cat (ALC). Its ORDER is Carnivore. Its FAMILY is Felidae. Its Genus is Felis. They are nocturnal loners, so they don’t travel in a pride or pack. Noted to be shy they have never been recorded as being kept as pet’s successfully in the US. Asian Leopard Cats are found naturally in Islands of Malaysia and Thailand extending to the mainland of Asia. They live near streams and for this reason they hunt near water, have no fear of water and are known to defecate in it. Because Asian Leopard Cats are genetically compatible with domestic cats, we now have what we call the Bengal cat.  Relatively small, approximately 16 pounds. The ALC’s in the southern climates have the darkest coat colors and their clear unticked coats display sharp contrast of spots. Unpreferred for breeding are the ticked variety found in the cooler northern and mainland areas such as the Amur Leopard Cat. As for spots, some have rosetting, some have solid one color spots. Some spots are round, some are arrowhead in shape. The estrous cycle is annual in the cooler climates usually giving birth near the month of May. Litters average one to four cubs. The Asian Leopard Cat has many varieties considered nearly extinct and endangered.

Conformation regards a Bengal cat that is of the correct “type”. The Bengal cat fits the standard closely especially as regards to body structure, including head, ear set, eye set, tail set, straigtness of legs, width of chest, length of neck, etc,

A hybrid, a man made breed. Cross bred from an Asian Leopard cat and a domestic short haired tabby. Only Bengals 4 generations removed may be eligible for show and are regarded as SBT’s. Ancestors prior to 4 generations removed are regarded as Filal stock or foundations. TheY are usually domestic in nature depending on the effort the breeder puts into socialization. Some breeders speculate non-skitish nature / domestic nature is a genetic trait as well.

Designates the generation or the sequence of generations following the parental generation. Filial, in Bengalese, indicates the hybrid generations, 1-3. Specifically referred to as: F1, F2, and F3. TICA has their own term for *filial adding to the confusion. *See FOUNDATION below.

A confusing term due misinterpretation. Generally a many ‘new’ breeders description of a foundational Bengals is being F1 through F3. Yet to the informed breeder foundation relates to “foundation breeding stock”, in any breed, regardless of generation or ancestry. A foundation stock Bengal could be an ALC, F1, F2, F3, or SBT. However, TICA registers the filial Bengals as Foundation Bengals. Consequently TICA refers to filial only as foundation this is where confusion can set in. Breeders that have been around awhile and bred other cats commonly refer to cats in their initial breeding as “foundation stock”. From this two-word description we gain a clear perspective between filial and foundation.

Found in Bengal kittens only. Around the age of 4 1/2 weeks to 7 weeks old Bengal kittens begin to have longer hairs protruding from their coat. Many consider it a stage of being an “ugly duckling” where the Bengal is about to begin a great transformation. The kitten looses contrast and its coat takes on a dull appearance. The undercoat becomes more prominent in the weeks to come.

Individual hair shafts that are gold in color and shimmer like gold. Some say ‘glitter’ is like a dusting of gold. This feature is not necessary for showing but obviously very appealing to the eye.

Spots on a Bengal cat that are less horizontal and essentially vertically aligned and are touching each other. Spots chained together create a ‘stripe’ effect. This is known as “mackereling”. Also referred to as “rib bars” or “rib stripes”. Mackereling is acceptable on a “pet quality” Bengal cat. Mackereling should not fair well in a show ring, however after years of many Bengals sporting some makereling on the front legs its pretty much accepted by judges in an unspoken manner. There are many Bengal cats that are championed while having some small degree of striping. Mackereling is found anywhere on the torso where as rib strips are found on the torso behind the front legs.

Pelted, or pelting is a buz word among breeders, “pelted” is a term many breeders throw around loosely. Originating from the obvious, many wild animals have soft coats and have a ‘pelt’. Bengals have a very plush and soft coat if they are ‘pelted’. Pelting usually goes hand in hand with Bengals that show sharp contrast in markings. If you see sharp contrast of markings in a photo it’s a safe bet that the Bengal is ‘pelted’.

Usually found on the torso behind the front legs, they are spots on a Bengal cat which are vertically aligned and are touching each other. These spots chained together create a ‘stripe’ effect. This is also known as “mackeraling”. Rib Bars are acceptable in “pet quality” Bengal cats, but loose points in a show ring.

A spot within a spot, ideally the shape of an arrowhead or random in nature, not perfectly round. In show quality Bengal cats the spots should not display vertical alignment. This is better understood as you would recognize the spots chained together creating a ‘stripe’ effect. This is known as “mackeraling”.

Refers to the backgound or ground color. Red in tone, auburn undercoat. The standard states rufinism is more desirable, however judges don’t follow this rule and quite often prefer it. There is no good or bad about rufinism, it just is.

Stands for Stud Book Tradition. A term designated by TICA, The International Cat Association. SBT indicates that the Bengal is pedigreed (yes an oxymoron because a Bengal is a hybrid) and must be at least 4 generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat. To be an SBT there must only be Bengal to Bengal breeding. No longer does the Bengal standard allow outcrosses.

Essentially any other forground (spot) color other than black. If the spots are not black you would refer to the cat as a sorrel. Depending on the breeder some consider sorrel to be a coat deep orange in ground color or a more intense tawney color. As an aside the deeper orange is usually found on the facial region and flank of the torso.

On leopards beige (tan). Another way to understand tawney is it is like the color of a cougar, its cooler in color than sorreling.

Acronym for The International Bengal Cat Society. Pronounced “tibbs”. Founded by Gene Ducote of Gogees whom is considered by many, the top breeder of Bengal cats for years. The breed has now come of age and Bengal cats as high quality of what Gene has produced can by found in a number of other breeding programs, Aluren of course being one. Gene has written a very good book on Bengals. Of the three books regarding Bengals I consider it the best. 

Bengals referred to as ‘ticked’ are by no means undesirable. A ‘ticked’ Bengal cat displays a lack of contrast in spots due to multi-colored hair shafts. Giving a salt & pepper appearance or a faded appearance. That is the spots look faded. Ticking does in fact take away from the soft plush ‘pelting’ that Bengals are also very well known for. To many Bengal enthusiast ‘ticking’ is bad, unlike in an oci cat where ‘ticking’ is good. The ‘ticking” gene was introduced on the domestic side by the Egyptian Mau when the Bengal standard allowed outcrossing to expand the gene pool.  Bengal cats in foundation programs must now only use SBT’s or Egyptian Mau’s, no others.

A buz word among breeders to describe a Bengal that the is of the correct “type”, that it fits the standard closely especially as regards to body structure.  Conformation is basically the same thing, the body structure, including head, ear set, eye set, tail set, straigtness of legs, width of chest, length of neck, etc,

These variations of the term ‘wild’ come up frequently when a breeder is describing a Bengal you have not seen. Perhaps you are about to buy and have asked for details on the prospective Bengal. “Tell me more about your kitten…” and the breeder responds… “His spots are random, he’s got a wild-head and…” And you don’t want to appear dumb so you don’t ask them to explain wild head. Just what is a wild head? You’ll get a thousand different answers to that one, because that is based on opinion. There is NO hard fast description of what makes a head wild looking. Many people have drawn pictures and written articles on what they believe to be a wild looking head. I resourced Gene Ducote for this answer and since she agrees with Jean Mill, I thought it worth repeating. Jean says what gives the wild look is: wide whisker pads, big nocturnal eyes, rounded forehead, a pinch behind the whiskerpads, no nose “break”–that is an almost straight profile, puffy nose leather, and the white encircling the eyes and muzzle.

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